International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Currently, the Vincentian Family has practically reached all parts of the world. In the spirit of its founders, they continue to work at the eradication of poverty by meeting immediate needs of people in distress while also working for structural and systemic change. This spirit is so closely connected to the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. because of our common belief in the dignity and worth of each person.
Other links: #EndPoverty, #GlobalGoals, #SDGs. You can also follow UN DESA on this issue through Twitter @undesadspd and on Facebook at: facebook.com/undesadspd
Monday, October 17, then, would be a significant day for Vincentians globally. It marks International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The theme is: “Moving from humiliation and exclusion to participation: Ending poverty in all its forms.”
We know from our experience, that the causes of poverty are multiple and interconnected. The UN is asking us on this day to go beyond seeing poverty merely as the lack of income or what is necessary for material well-being — such as food, housing, land, and other assets – in order to fully understand poverty in its multi-dimensions. The theme this year—selected in consultation with activists, civil society, and non-governmental organizations—highlights how important it is to recognize and address the humiliation and exclusion endured by many people living in poverty.
Let us reflect a little on the history and origin of this special day. This day is focused on making the voices of persons living in poverty heard. In 1982, over 100,000 people gathered at the Trocadero in Paris (where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948), to honor the victims of extreme poverty, violence, and hunger. Monday marks the 29th anniversary of the official observance of this day.
Poverty remains a violation of human rights. As Vincentians, we are called to affirm the urgency for coming together to create just systems that are representative of the needs of impoverished people around the world.
The UN last year adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The first goal relates to ending poverty in all its forms everywhere. Creative activities to end poverty will take place globally October 17. But eradicating poverty demands attention every day of the year.
The UN invites all people to devote the day to presenting and promoting concrete activities with regard to the eradication of poverty and destitution. As non-governmental organizations, it is our responsibility to assist States and the United Nations in taking action to create the change needed to ensure that the rights of all impoverished people are respected and sustained.
A large part of this work, we believe, remains in ensuring the full participation of persons living in poverty in decisions that affect their lives and their communities. We can no longer allow their voices to be silenced or deny them the right to be seated at the center of the table, where policies and strategies to tackle poverty are made. They, too, deserve the right to provide insight on how to build a sustainable future for themselves. When we protect this right, we become true advocates for those to whom St. Vincent de Paul calls us to devote our lives.
The UN Member States’ recent signing of the New York Declaration, combined with their commitment to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, encourage us to be even bolder in the effort to eliminate poverty. It also challenges us not to forget the ongoing struggle faced by persons living in poverty. We must remember that struggle and the persons experiencing on this special day, but we must also work tirelessly, even when, and particularly when, the fight proves to be difficult.
The future of the world is in our hands!
What is one action we can commit to today that will help alleviate poverty?